About Author: Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

Posts by Colleen Theisen


Main Library Exhibition Gallery is Now OPEN : First Exhibition “Explorer’s Legacy”

Explorer’s Legacy:

James Van Allen and the Discovery of the Radiation Belts

February 1 – April 8



After months of being closed for renovations the new state of the art gallery in the University of Iowa Main Library is now open. Stop by and take a look at the exhibition, including the story of the discovery of the radiation belts, and the tale of how the earliest data recorded from space was recovered, digitized, and made available for scientists and scholars.

Gallery hours:

Monday-Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Read More about this exhibition.


Special Collections Weekly Update 1/29/2016

Upcoming Events: Iowa Bibliophiles

Portrait of Heather Wacha

Wednesday, February 10th at 7PM in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Heather Wacha will be talking about a single Medieval manuscript leaf from Special Collections, Msc 542 xMMs.Pr1 and her process identifying it. She will present her findings about this text in the 13th century manuscript edition, 16th century early printed editions, as well as early 20th century history when Otto Ege broke the manuscript apart, and the early 21st century when digital technologies allow us to start to put it back together again.

Join us for refreshments at 6:30PM.

More information.

Manuscript Collection Update from Jacque Roethler

Jonas Hunt was first corporal and first sergeant of the Iowa 18th Volunteer Regiment, Company B. His grandson, Leland Hunt, has gifted this collection to the University of Iowa.

From notes from his great-great granddaughter we have this history: “Jonas Hunt was born August 7, 1837. On August 6, 1862 Jonas joined the Eighteenth Regiment Volunteer Infantry. Jonas took part in several battles in southern Missouri and Arkansas before being mustered out the first part of August 1865. They [meaning he and his wife Emeline Twombley] apparently built a log cabin in Lacelle, IA (no longer a town) near Osceola and raised nine children. “

The collection consists of a canteen, a certificate, a roster, a family bible, a military record, and a company sick book. This last item, the sick book, is fairly unique to this collection. It is a record of every illness in the company and where the person was serving during his sickness. It is divided into columns as follows: Name, rank, sick in quarters, in hospital, and duty.

New Acquisition Updates from Margaret Gamm

The Glenwood Resource Center in Glenwood, Iowa, was previously named the Iowa Institution for Feeble-Minded Children. This album from around 1910 documents that earlier time period. In some of the first photos, several women show off their Winter attire on a January day declared to be 24 below. Brr! While the creator of the album focused on the teachers at the Institution, the students make many appearances as well.

Event Recap

Photo of Steve Smith

Photo: Stephen Smith. Photo by Marvin Gatch. Papers of Stephen Lynn Smith (RG 02.0009.032)

University archivist David McCartney gave a presentation about the Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network at St. Ambrose University in Davenport on Thursday, 1/18/2016. HICRN is a project of archivists, librarians, historians, and former civil rights workers from across the state to document the civil rights movement, both at home and elsewhere. David co-founded HICRN in 2012 and, to date, 12 institutions have participated.




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Special Collections Weekly Update 1/22/2016

Staff Publications

Portrait image of Amy Chen

Amy Hildreth Chen

Special Collections Instruction Librarian

Archive Journal, Notes+Queries, “Methods to Use Digital Resources to Teach Primary Sources”: http://goo.gl/wcJuF7


Upcoming Events

The U.Iowa History of Medicine Society and the Iowa Women’s Archives
invite you to hear:
Injections, Itches, and Institutions:
The Experience of Rural Medicine in Iowa, 1910-1950

Portrait of Jennifer Gunn


Jennifer Gunn
History of Medicine Endowed Professor
Director of the Institute for Advanced Study
University of Minnesota

Thursday, January 28, 2016, 5:30-6:30
Medical Education Research Facility (MERF) 2117

Free and Open to the Public


Event Recap

Image of a group of people at the mock caucusIowa Women’s Archives staff participated in a Mock Caucus event with other staff from the UI Libraries on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. A mock caucus is a non-partisan educational event to teach about the caucus process and what to expect. Vitalina Nova, Preservation Projects Librarian, led an educational and bilingual guide to caucus.

The event was held at the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City and was co-sponsored by LULAC and the Center.

 New Acquisitions

Update from Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian Margaret Gamm

These books arrived this week as part of a donation from Nicholas Meyer. His gift, which will be added to his previous gifts to Special Collections, included translations of his works in several languages, as well as Star Trek books and movies and some other fascinating items. The books are about to head over to our cataloging department, where the real language skills live. Kudos to our multi-talented catalogers, and to our generous donor!

 Sign Up for Spring Semester Class Sessions

Update from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen

Image of a class of students examining booksSpecial Collections librarians can support any aspect of class planning for teaching with rare books and primary source materials.

We had a record-breaking 2015, so sign up early or else our rooms and librarians may already be booked for popular times. Find our class request form here.



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Special Collections Weekly Update 1/15/2016

Instruction: Spring Semester Sign Up

Update from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen

Students looking at a bookSpecial Collections librarians can support any aspect of class planning for teaching with rare books and primary source materials.

We had a record-breaking 2015, so sign up early or else our rooms and librarians may already be booked for popular times. Find our class request form here.


New Acquisitions

Update from Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian Margaret Gamm

Pick Yourself Up From off the Ground by CubaPick Yourself Up From off the Ground by CubaPick Yourself Up From off the Ground by Cuba. One of a kind artist’s book with acrylic graffiti paintings, 2014.




From the University Archives

Update from University Archivist David McCartney

A video paging through a 100+ year old scrapbook from a woman from the class of 1915 who attended the very first Homecoming football game.

Staff Awards

Portrait image of Amy ChenSpecial Collections Instruction Librarian Amy Chen was selected to be featured as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections Magazine. Read the feature here.




From the Web and Social Media

In Case You Missed It: A Compilation of Recent Links & Posts 

  1. Blog post reporting on a research trip to Special Collections: Marbled Paper Connections by Emily Pazar.  See it here.
  2. Article about the Brinton early film collection: 100 Years Later, New Audiences Discover Legendary Outsider.  See it here.
  3. Center for the Book/Special Collections commercial that we filmed last August is finished and will air on the Big Ten Network.  Article: here  Video below:


“The Humanity in History”

January 8th-March 1st, 2016

Kelly Grogg, graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science and Special Collections senior Olson Graduate Assistant, has completed her capstone exhibition. It is on display now in the cases outside Special Collections on the 3rd floor.

“Every person featured in this exhibit has contributed to make the world a better place.  They may not have ever reached the level of recognition they deserved, but despite their humble beginnings and oncoming obstacles, they contributed to the world in a way that cannot be measured in a ‘neatly packaged, sanitized parable’.  These are the people who create history.”  – Kelly Grogg  

Read more.


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Amy Chen Honored as a “Bright Young Librarian”

Portrait image of Amy Chen
Special Collections Instruction Librarian Amy Hildreth Chen was selected to be featured as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections Magazine. Please join us in congratulating her on this recognition from the wider community.

You can read the feature here.



A Look Back on 2015 in Special Collections

34,000 people visited the mobile museum exhibition, "Iowans in World War 2" and 3,000 Pages were digitized as part of the Hevelin Collection science fiction fanzine digitization projectOur instruction program had its biggest year ever with 212 classes taught in special collections and 38 in the Iowa Women's ArchivesBig year for social media. 1,000,000 loops on Vine, Instagram grew exponentially to over 3000 followers.We received donations of 18000 science fiction books, the earliest known recording of Stokely Carmichael, seriographs by Corita Kent and congressional papers from Jim Leach. Dada and Surrealism journal is now online and we answered 696 Reference questions last year.New staff include Alonso Avila, Amy Chen, Laura Hampton, Lindsay Moen, and John Fifield. We have a new video series called, "If Books Could Talk."The LULAC national president visited IWA and Janet Weaver was awarded the LULAC Council 307 builder award. We had new spanish language acquisitions including an artist's book called Orbita and 1960's-1970's mexican comic books called Los Supermachos.We visited many science fiction conventions this year including ICON, Demicon, Mid-South con and World Con and fans from ICON helped raise $1955 to fund digitization.


Issue no. 20 of Dada/Surrealism Journal Now Available

By Tim Shipe, Curator, International Dada Archive, and Arts & Literature Liaison

We are pleased to announce the publication of issue no. 20 of our journal Dada/Surrealism, a special number entitled From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania.” http://ir.uiowa.edu/dadasur/vol20/iss1/.

Co-edited by Monique Yaari of the Pennsylvania State University and Timothy Shipe of the University of Iowa, our thematic issue includes eighteen articles by scholars and critics from North America, Europe, and Israel, as well as a selection of primary documents newly translated into English and a substantial bibliography. From Dada to Infra-Noir is the first essay collection in English on the subject of Romanian Dada and surrealism in literature and the visual arts, both within Romania and in the (largely francophone) diaspora.

Dada/Surrealism is the peer-reviewed, free and open-access journal of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, and is published by the International Dada Archive, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Profuse thanks are due to Wendy Robertson for her expertise, patience, and hard work in bringing this project to fruition.

Tim Shipe

General Editor, Dada/Surrealism


News and Updates from Special Collections 12/18/2015

From the Web and Social Media


Boy hitting a pinata at a LULAC party in 1967

Preservation Projects Librarian, Vitalina Nova, wrote a blog post about the League of United Latino American Citizens Council 10, both their past records and their current projects for the Iowa Women’s Archives blog.

Image on the left from LULAC Council 10 Records, IWA0733



Rose Bowl sticker2016 Rose Bowl a chance to make new memories: UI archivist recalls Iowa’s five previous visits to Pasadena.  This month’s Old Gold column by University Archivist David McCartney was posted this week.

This 1959 Rose Bowl decal was sold by Iowa Book and Supply and donated to the university by 1976 alumnus Vernon Lustick, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.



Notes from the Special Collections Classroom

This week’s news from Amy Chen, Instruction Librarian 


Image of a class of students examining books

Counting up some totals at the end of the semester, Special Collections (not including the Iowa Women’s Archives) taught 119 class sessions total in the Fall 2015 Semester:

4 in August

34 in September

39 in October

28 in November

14 in December



New Acquisitions

Arrival Notifications from Margaret Gamm, 

Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian 


The Descent of Mount Gadam is a new acquisition for our Charlotte Smith miniature book collection. Amos Paul Kennedy published the book in 1993 under the imprint of his Jubilee Press, which was later renamed the Jubalee Press. The text is an adaptation of a folktale of the Mensa Bet-Abrehe people of northern Ethiopia.


News and Updates from Special Collections 12/11/2015

Notes from the Special Collections Classroom

This week’s news from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen.

Latin Classes

On Monday, four sections of Marcia Lindgren’s Latin I came to Special Collections to learn how Latin circulated in the early modern period with either Acquisition Librarian Margaret Gamm or Instruction Librarian Amy Chen. Students rotated among eight books (or, technically, seven books and one manuscript!) completing worksheets that directed them to find unique features in the texts such as bookplates, guide letters, and worm holes. This curricula is new and represents our shift toward student-centered classes. By all means, it was a success, and we look forward to continuing and refining these sessions in the future.

Student Exhibition

Rennaissance Texts as Technology main pageEnglish Department Professor Adam Hooks has been working with the UI Libraries’ Special Collections and Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio for a project with his students creating a group exhibition utilizing the open source exhibition software Omeka. You can view the students’ online exhibition, “Renaissance Texts as Technology” here: http://rentexts2015.omeka.net/




Event Recap

Lunch with the Chefs

Acquisitions Librarian Margaret Gamm and University Archivist David McCartney created a pop up exhibition for this semester’s Caribbean-themed Lunch with the Chefs event.

Iowa Bibliophiles

Arthur Bonfield spoke about 17th century voyage and travel books from the publisher John Ogilby, and brought stunning examples from his own collection including one of the earliest images of New Amsterdam (New York City) and the first English road atlas. Iowa Bibliophiles is on hiatus through the winter break and will return February 10th.

Join our email list to get meeting reminders: https://t.co/SkUsH1jiIB

From the Web and Social Media


Cover of New Challenge with image of Dora Lee MartinManuscripts Processing Coordinator Jacque Roethler wrote a blog post, Dora Lee and Arthurine: A Story of Two Black Women in 1955-1956





Image of Colleen TheisenOutreach & Engagement Librarian Colleen Theisen was interviewed by SAGE for Library Journal.





Image of a woman from the cover of a pulp magazine by Margaret Brundage

The Hevelin Collection Tumblr was celebrating the birthday of the “Queen of the Pulps” Margaret Brundage.  Digital Projects Librarian Laura Hampton has created a posts here and an in-depth post here.





New Acquisitions

New Arrival Notifications from Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian Margaret Gamm

New acquisition opening: The Laundry Book. Contretemps Coup Press, 2015.



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Iowa Bibliophiles December 9th Meeting: All Are Welcome

Iowa Bibliophiles December Meeting


Refreshments 6:30PM — Talk at 7PM

Special Collections Reading Room — 3rd Floor Main Library


Travel back in time to see portions of the world as documented in richly-illustrated, large books published by John Ogilby between 1649 and 1675. The books include explorations of China, Asia, Japan, Africa, America, and Britain.

Arthur Bonfield will share his extensive knowledge about the books, John Ogliby, the printer, and the cultural context in which the books were produced and used. A description of Ogilby’s methods of publishing, selling, illustrating, and distributing these expensive publications and their contents will be the focus of this talk.

This is a rare opportunity to view and closely examine these volumes, which are English translations of books published in Amsterdam by Jacob von Meurs. Ogilby’s books appear to have been produced using plates from the original Dutch books—an interesting detail about which you’ll want to hear more!

Please join us for coffee and light refreshments at 6:30 PM before the lecture at 7PM in the Reading Room of Special Collections on the 3rd Floor of the UI Main Library.

All are welcome and the lecture is free.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.



Image of Arthur Bonfield
Arthur Bonfield is a Professor at the Iowa Law School and has been collecting books published between 1490 and 1800 for 60 years. He has collected about 1,000 books printed during that period and focuses his collecting on voyages, travels, and geography; English and European history; encyclopedias and dictionaries of the arts and sciences; political philosophy; and herbals.